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Archive for November 17th, 2009

Haute Tension (Switchblade Romance)

by on Nov.17, 2009, under Daily Review

With roots deeply bedded in stalk and slash films from the 80’s, this little French number packs a serious punch. We have two twenty-something girls heading for a holiday at Alexia’s parents country home. During their first ht01evening, they are visited by a crazed killer who relentlessly slaughters everyone, including Alexia’s young brother. It’s shocking stuff. The script/dialogue pretty much grinds to a halt after about 10 minutes and from then on, the fun begins.

But it’s not that simple. It’s a very basic, over used formula which has been cleverly manipulated into a fast moving, intelligent and chilling gore-fest. It’s beautifully shot as you’d expect from Alexandre Aja, one of France’s most exciting new directors in the genre who has lifted many clichés and famous classic gore scenes and breathed fresh life, and certainly putting plenty back into the cauldron.

Cecile De France (Marie) takes the lead role and offers and extremely convincing performance showing great depth of character, again breaking away from all clichés related to ‘the girl in the slasher film’.

Highlights include a marvellous Texas Chainsaw homage with a pavement grinder replacing the chainsaw, which is quite spectacular. It’s always good to have a yellow Mustang in any film for quite a fun car chase, while New Born by Muse takes over the speakers. There’s also a very gory decapitation as a bloke has his head stuck between the spokes on a stair banister. Murder at petrol stations has always been high up on my lists of ‘good locations for some gore’. Should I mention the twist? Great twist, hinted at very early on in the film. A second viewing is highly recommended which adds a lot more to the overall plot once the twist is apparent. I think I’ve said it before, but the French have currently got this genre nailed.

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The Wicker Man

by on Nov.17, 2009, under Daily Review

Pagan worship on a Scottish Island. Christopher Lee in a Dress, Britt Ekland dancing naked, Edward Woodward as the Christian Cop, Maypoles, cemeteries, spooky kids,  innuendo, animal masks and a missing girl. These are the things that wicker manmake The Wicker Man a fine film.  I’m not even going to mention the dramatic climax, as there is more to this film than the ending.  The basic plot revolves around a message sent to the mainland, a young girl is missing. Sergeant Howie (Woodward) takes a trip to the island to investigate the disappearance only to be met with blank expressions and closed doors. The locals are weird and insult Howie’s  Christian beliefs by rubbing his nose in Pagan craziness. It soon becomes apparent that there is something very dangerous taking place on Summerisle.

The Wicker man is unlike anything ever made. It’s available in various editions, edited with a butchers knife; all versions have inconstancies in plot and continuity. This makes the film all the more special. It’s a magical feeling watching this film, which captivates the viewer  and mesmerises with every scene, every line of script, every creepy smile and deep belly laughter. Maybe it’s the unwinding plot as Howie investigates as a detective, questioning and demanding some truth. The music is incredible too, adding an extra layer to this film, pagan folk; the Ekland scene is known as one of the most famous cinematic moments, but what makes it so is the music, haunting Howie, doubting his religion during Willow’s song. Gently Johnny is also a highlight.

wicker2The cast is an outstanding collection of talent. Christopher Lee, and Edward Woodward, arguably both their best cinematic performances. Britt Ekland, Ingrid Pitt and Aubrey Morris to name a few. A near perfect script by Shaffer (Frenzy & Sleuth) this film could be closer to a theatrical play than a film.

I’ve heard people mention that this film is not a Horror. Nonsence. This movie captivates pure evil, the like I’ve never seen since. I don’t know if it’s the contrast of Pagan/Christian belief, good vs evil, but balanced in a way that is believable. The residents of Summerisle see thier actions as natural and normal. I think it’s this innocence of evil which makes my spine tingle.

Rest in Peace Eddie.

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